Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Conflicting Feelings

So it's been 5 weeks since I've been back in Canada. I've decided to continue writing in this blog, because it is a constructive form of reflection for me. I'm able to process thoughts, and think critically from experiences, learning things I wouldn't normally learn. Some of these posts might not be interesting at all. You may think that I am over analyzing a simple situation, the result of a hyperactive imagination, lol. Alas, the blog should be changed to A Window Into Nick's Brain.

Since being back, everybody is asking "what's it like to be back". This isn't an easy question to answer quickly, because a whole mess of emotions arise whenever I think about Ghana and now the polar opposite that is Canada. Ghana was a world of extremes. Distractions were minimal, and one was able to focus on everything in their environment. There were highs, when I would work 80hr weeks and wake up excited for the next week. There were lows, when I cried for the first time in 8 years. Ghana pushed me to my limits, in a way no other experience has.

But being back is confusing. I'm so happy to be back seeing friends and family. It's amazing to engage in intellectual conversations with so many of you. Get up to speed on global issues. Have fun. Eat amazing food.

When I really sit down and think about it, I think about what my host family back in Ghana is doing. What my co-worker is doing. I think about the fact that 6 weeks ago that used to be me. And it makes me amazed that two places so different could exist on the same planet.

But when people ask "how's it to be back?". Sometimes I don't want to answer "great". Sometimes I'm damn frustrated, and want to say how aggravating it can be to see people so . . . content . . .oblivious . . . apathetic.

Though my experience is limited, I feel that the life I led in Ghana was closer to the majority than the world than we live here. The life we live in Canada, or at least Vancouver, seems so . . . artificial. People work hard for what they have, but there is just so much excess. People are able to have hobbies, walk around the sea wall, go out for coffee, sushi, or drinks. Our children dress like their supermodels, have elementary schools that are better than most secondary schools in developing countries, and participate in all sorts of extracurricular activities. We live life as though we are inside a bubble of sheltered utopian reality.

Now some of you may be saying “Nick, people are being laid off and we are in the midst of an economic crisis”. This is true, and for those people I am sorry. It’s not my intention to downplay or understate the plight of many Canadians. But I look at our society, with the social programs such as Employment Insurance and Welfare, and can see that we are still getting along quite well.

If you are somebody who has your struggles and that occupies your energy, efforts, and time, then my frustrations are not with you. If you are somebody who doesn’t know about the global crises of today, then my argument is not with you . . . although today we should all know what is happening in the world.

My frustrations are with those that know the great global challenges of our time, and choose not to do anything. The people who say “it’s too depressing, it’s too daunting”. That wearing the world’s problems on one’s shoulders isn’t going to make them go away.

There are issues in this world that are not permissible. They are unacceptable. We all know this but for some reasons are sometimes struck into a state of apathy. Ignorance of these issues is no longer an adequate excuse. Most people know of the global conflicts/plights of today, and those that choose ‘not to know more’ consciously, are guilty of inaction. Because it is depressing or too daunting, does not justify inaction. This is the same as saying: “that’s really sad, but I can’t deal with it right now, at least it’s not me on that side of the world”.

It is our obligation, as human beings, to attempt to remedy these issues, in whatever capacity we choose to.

No one should be able to say, you are doing enough or not doing enough. It is only a moral question that you need to ask yourself. “Can I do more?” If you get a guilty or queasy stomach feeling, then you know your answer. YES.

It’s true, that thinking of all global issues can be suffocating at times. One cannot know their place, what they can do, or what problem to address. Just pick something that motivates you to take action. Pick one cause that you can devote some of your effort to, and follow through on it. Start off small, take the small steps, and reward yourself for your small successes.

Just make sure that you are continuing to increase commitment. Don’t kid yourself that throwing pop bottles in the recycling or using a travel mug is really going to stop global warming. Just ask that simple question: “Can I do more?” and let yourself be the judge.

What makes me saddest is thinking about the upcoming generation. A generation that has a sense of entitlement, without the need for work ethic. A generation that’s occupied with the new bells and whistles being put out by Apple and Microsoft, instead of world news. I’ll leave that for another post however . . .